For houses with their own water wells, what kind of evaluations and what
info sources do you go to?
Obviously, if you can't get enough safe water, the house is unlivable -
so it's number one on the list to be checked out.
I can't find any books that focus on this and I'm hoping some people in
here know about this kind of stuff.
The specific are I'm interested in is Colorado.
I manage 8 shared wells for a small HOA. It amazes me the number of people who
buy very expensive homes and don't ask the questions you are asking, so
congratulations. You're off to a good start. If you are thinking about selling,
you'll be ahead of the game if you have this info for your potential buyer.
If I was considering purchasing a house on a well, I would insist that the
seller pay for a well contractor of *my* choosing to measure the water level and
flow rate of the well. That's going to cost a couple of hundred dollars to open
the well, perform the test, sanitize it and close it up. I'd also want an
assessment of how old the well pump is and what kind of condition it's in.
Replacing a pump can cost upwards of a couple of thousand dollars (+/-)
depending on the depth of the well.
I'd insist on a copy of the drilling record. If the owner can't find it, there
should be a copy on file with the county or state engineer. That shows the
original level and flow rate for comparison purposes, as well as the geography
you're dealing with.
Then I'd find a local lab that will do water quality tests. At a minimum, I'd
get a nitrate/nitrite test and a total coliform/e coli test. Each test should
run less than $50 and will tell you if the well is being contaminated by a
nearby septic system or getting surface runoff water. The EPA publishes minimun
standards for public water systems. They don't apply to private wells, but will
give you an idea of what to look out for.
Finally, I'd talk to a couple of neighbors and ask them how their wells have
been doing and if there is any significant neighborhood information (irrigation
plans, new subdivision, etc.) you should be aware of.
1) Do a flow test. Open an outside spigot and let the water flow at
full open. Let it continue to flow for several hours watching for any
loss of flow. If you get a loss of flow you have a problem well. If
no flow-loss you very likely have a good well. Of course you need to
monitor this test. Don't start it, leave, and come back. You don't
want the present owner to "interfere" with it while you are not there.
You can probably proceed with other inspections while the flow test is
running. Note: measuring the water level in the well is not a
sufficient test. You need to measure the well recharge rate. That's
what the flow test does.
2) If (1) proves ok, send a sample of the water to be tested. You
will need to be sure that the sample bottle is clean. Check with a
testing lab to see if they can provide a bottle.
An approach like the above seems reasonable to
me. A decent flow rate is 15GPM, which is enough
to support a decent lawn sprinkler system, for example.
10GPM is still OK for normal domestic use. 5GPM is
probably the lower limit, but I'm sure there are wells
out there in use that are below that. It also obviously
depends on the area.
In my case I think it is an artesian well as it is dug through strata to
reach the aquifer. This would be versus a shallow well that depends on
ground level water and can run dry in a bad drought.
When I bought the house many years ago we had a note from the well
digger that the recovery rate was about 15 gal/min and I think minimally
acceptable is 5 gal/min. We've never had a supply problem.
Had water tested by plumber once for free for mineral content as they
were trying to sell a treatment system. I found results acceptable and
did not add a system.
Water, of course, has to be drinkable. Some chemicals may be harmless
but make the water unpalatable and you may need to treat or just use for
sinks and toilets and bring in bottled water.
Besides the water, you might want a plumber to check the system - pump
and pressure tank. I've had both fail and have to be replaced. Not
cheap but in the long run maybe half the cost of buying municipal water.
Artesian water comes at the cost of settling the land, and depleting
the aquafe's ability to even 'hold' water. It is my understanding that
the land south of the bay in California has setteld over 90 feet!
Plus, in the 'old' days, if you didn't stop your well the water
literally gushed up and out and you were fined for not stopping it.
Now, it takes a lot of pumps to get that water up out of the ground.
If you go to the Yacht Harbor in Alviso and stand on the roof of the
two story Yacht Club building, you are about level with the bay.
That'sa lot of settling.
IMO water contamination is not adequately covered. People say, "Just
don't drink it." But, they'll still shower in the water, covering 100%
of their skin with the water - keep in mind a nicotine patch is what?
1 inch diamter? and it puts a LOT of stuff into your body THROUGH your
skin. Now, compare that to contaminated water [or at least, contining
questionable chemicals] over your whole body. How much absorbs?
I did a bit of googling. water in artesian wells is not forced out by
ground setling, water pressure in the aquifer pushes the water out if
the well is drilled in a spot lower than the surface of the
Dunno what all that hash is. Just google 'artesian well'. First hit
is good Wikki ref with pictures.
I did not say the ground settling CAUSED the water to come out. It was
merely a statement that the water USED TO come out, no longer
does ...for whatever reason.
When I first drove by the Yacht Club building at the Yacht Harbor in
Alviso, we thought it was some kind of joke, labeling a building below
water line that way. It was not until a few years later I ran across
the articles describing the 'sinking' of the area that I realized the
article was true. I had seen the resulting effect for myself. The
article attributed the settling to the removal of water.
Underground water that's replenished is what I have. Rock strata
reaching into Pennsylvania and down to the coast.
Local water company is Artesian Water and they call their wells artesian
wells. Closest to me is about a mile and a half and when first put in
some nearby wells dried up. Occasional droughts have led to water
restrictions but none have been called in maybe the last 5 years. I've
never noticed anything on my well which is about 125 foot deep.
In over 35+ years, we've gone through three pumps and three pressure
tanks but all in all maybe half the cost of buying water - which is not
available in neighborhood anyway. Similar comments for septic which is
another issue of concern with wells particularly shallow in high water
table areas, probably not op's.
In some/many places the term also is used to describe any underground
water "formation" that's "pressurized."
As an example, our home is within a few hundred feet of literal
tidewater. We are less than 100' above sea level. Our well is about
240' deep and I was told my the guy who replace the old pump (which was
30 years old, BTW) that the pump was about 200' in the ground.
But the "well guy" also said that the static water level was only about
80' down. IOW: the water formation has enough pressure not only to
keep out the tidal salt water but also to fill our well casing to "sea
Many of the folks who were born and raised in the Virginia Norther Neck
would say we had an "artesian" well despite the fact that the pressure
isn't sufficient to bring the water to the surface.
I'm inclined to agree with them. My thinking is that were I to have a
"true" artesian well with the water flowing to the surface with the aide
of a pump and the pressure dropped just to the point where the water
stopped flowing out of the casing but still rose to the ground surface,
the well is essentially the same but the pressure dropped by less than 1
psi. If it was an artesian well before the 1 psi drop, it's an
artesian well after the drop.
Yes, the term is used that way and you can find it in dictionaries as
such but never as the first meaning. I think it is one of those
meanings that has come to be accepted because of icommonly being used
A whole lot of information about your well. Depth, type of rock at what
depths. GPM tests. etc. etc. Check out all linked documents for
images of original filings, etc. Who did the drilling, emplaced the
pump, did the tests.
The fastest way to a particular well is if you have the permit number.
Else use the location search.
County Assessor offices in Colorado mostly have ways to search for the
records of a property. Sometimes the well permit number will be there.
What county are you in? I might already know where the assessor records
If you have access to MLS sheets, the permit number will be there.
(Realtor M.ultiple L.isting S.ervice).
Sometimes searching for a property at remax.com, zillow.com, or
realtor.com can get you to a property description with permit numbers.
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